Working Well from Home

The number of employees working from home in office-type jobs, or roles involving travel where home is used as a base, is steadily increasing.

  • Employers must consider if the job and job holder are suitable for homeworking
  • Many homeworkers say they have a better work-life balance
  • Homeworking or tele-working may be considered as a reasonable adjustment to allow a disabled worker to carry on with their role

Homeworking can present challenges to both employers and employees. For employers, this can include managing staff who work on their own and away from the main business base. For employees, it can include overcoming feelings of isolation and managing the boundaries between home and work life.

Our top tips

Homeworking is usually seen as an attractive option, but does not suit everyone. A homeworker needs to be able to cope with working on their own with little supervision. When working from home ideally you need to be:

  • Able to spend long periods alone and be confident working without supervision
  • Self-disciplined and self-motivated
  • Able to separate work from home life

Working from home can be quite demanding for an employee. Self-discipline is essential and it is important to maintain contact with the office. Without face-to-face interaction some aspects of work are very different. Regular contact with the office - by email, Skype messaging, or face-to-face meetings - will keep you in the loop and help maintain a sense of team spirit.

The CIPD found that a lack of clarity and guidance for employees around remote working can cultivate an environment where some employees feel unable to physically or mentally switch off. This may have adverse effects on employee well-being and engagement with the organisation, as well as productivity at work. Employers need to have a clear approach to remote working and to create a wider enabling culture, where employees feel trusted and empowered to take ownership of their work, but also feel able to speak out if they are struggling.

It helps to be well organised

Have a space dedicated to work (it doesn’t have to be big) but working from the kitchen table is a mistake, you need a home office if you can possibly arrange it. When you enter your home office you are set for the day, you are going to work. It changes the state of mind from “I’m at home” to “I’m at work”. Make sure you have the right tools to do the job, invest in a decent printer/copier/scanner and a chair that is comfortable and supportive.

Make it clear you are at work. Don’t leave the door to your office open. If the door is open, the rest of the household may assume you are available for chores or company. Manage distractions and interruptions. Plan a schedule that will enable you to be productive, take regular breaks, and stop work at a reasonable time.

Working from home can be stressful but it is also usually easier to take a break and go for a walk. Getting some fresh air and some exercise clears your mind and allows you to re-evaluate and refocus.

Whether you work from home full-time, or on an occasional basis, the key to productivity is to maintain your focus and the same mindset as you would in the office.

Posted: Friday 4 May 2018

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